Climate Sceptics Defend Science From Duplicity?

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

It has all kicked off today at Climate Audit where Ryan O’Donnell is very annoyed…

………in  blog articles titled Steig’s Trick and  Coffin, meet nail.

All about the Steig, Mann et al paper that generated a Nature front page and world wide alarmism that the Antarctic was suffering man made global warming.

Some sceptical people thought that they had got their maths wrong and decided to publish paper to show how the statitistics should be done, thus improving the science.

There then follows a long tail.

Where it is at:

A short (compared to elsewhere) layman’s summary below, borrowed and tweaked a bit from the comments at Bishop Hill:

Comment at BH: “Eric Steig et al produced a paper in 2009 which got front page on Nature and widespread media coverage, which argued that virtually the whole of Antarctica (and not just the peninsula) had and was warming.

(the fact that Antarctica is just as freezing as it was 30 years ago was always a problem for the Team, a bit like the MWP which they did their best to erase from the record).

The apparent warming of the frozen continent was achieved by use of poor and at best dubious statistical methods, which were quickly pointed out by Jeff Id and others at WUWT etc. Basically as just about all the weather stations are located on the peninsula and coasts, they had to extrapolate and interpolate this data, into the interior.

But the resolution of their statistical interpolations was poor and there are still questions about the quality of the data they had from at least some of the coastal bases – i.e. errors were very likely to have been compounded.

IIRC, Steig suggested to Ryan and Jeff that rather than argue it out on the blogs, they should publish a paper, under peer review.

This is where it starts to get murky.

Steig should not have been asked to be a reviewer, as he had an obvious conflict of interest.

In most if not all scientific disciplines the lead author of the defending paper would not have been asked, (and definitely would have declined if he had been asked), but then be given the first right of reply following publication.

But instead, he became Reviewer A, who tried all he could to thwart the paper’s progression to publication. (88 pages of comments and obfuscation, 10 times longer thgan the actual paper).

Ryan guessed that Reviewer A was Stieg early on, but still remained patient and good natured.

At one point in the review process, Steig (still anonymously)suggested that Ryan and Jeff should use an alternative statistical technique, which they then did.

But then later, Steig then criticised the paper, citing the example of the same statistical technique as an issue (the one he had suggested). So Steig has laid himself open to charges of unprofessional conduct, duplicity.

And that was when Ryan decided to bring all this out in the open. And called out Eric Steig’s apparent duplicity as the anonymous Reviewer A.

Meanwhile Gavin and the other members of the Team at the Real Climate (RC) blog have gone into overdrive in moderating (deleting) any commenter who ask any reasonable questions about all of this.

Basically this the evidence that peer review at least in climate science is broken.

A number of commenters have said that the implications are as big as climategate. ie Direct evidence of the broken peer review process and the ‘gaming’ of the system going on.

Hopefully this will give impetus to future inquiries into the behavior of the team on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lastly, with the stushie resulting from all this, it should not be forgotten that Steig’s original paper was fundamentally flawed, and should be retracted by Nature.

Hopefully that’s a fair summary, if not no problem is others want to make corrections or add details.” End

Following these comments, I gave James Delingpole a call this morning (as I bet many others did, following peer review , Professor Nurse and that Horizon program) his take is below (and a nice Josh Cartoon) and I really like the name of the article (ref for RealClimate really – very serendipitous) ;)

Delingpole: RealClimategate hits the final nail into the coffin of peer review

Dot Earth (New York Times: Revkin) has an update to an earlier article and is looking into it and I expect his next article will be very interesting.

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3 Responses to Climate Sceptics Defend Science From Duplicity?

  1. Orson says:

    You present a very nifty summary of the situation.

    I wish “science journalists” could be summoned to be so alert and aware of the blog-based review and criticism going on over “climate science.”

    This dog’s been beaten up enough before–the ‘savants’ were warned before.

  2. jackcowper says:

    Good article Mr Woods.

    Roy Spencer has had the same trouble with his paper “On the diagnosis in the presence of unknown radiative forcing”.

    A direct quote here:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/our-jgr-paper-on-feedbacks-is-published/

    ‘After years of re-submissions and re-writes — always to accommodate a single hostile reviewer — our latest paper on feedbacks has finally been published by Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR).’

    So who was the hostile reviewer in this case? Maybe it was someone else within the team!

  3. Pascvaks says:

    When the established ‘ways and means’ no longer work new ways and means must be found or created and used. We’re in a period of transition. We’re always in a period of transition. The obvious is not always apparent. Think Web!

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